Thursday May 23, 2019

To avoid Nazi confusion, Japan considers changing ‘manji’ temple icon

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New Delhi: Japan will soon witness a surging influx of foreign visitors when it will host the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. However, the country is facing the dilemma of whether to identify its Buddhist temples on maps with the ‘manji’ symbol or not.

Often confused with the Nazi swastika, the symbol hailing from ancient Sanskrit means happiness and prosperity. Usually pointing counter-clockwise (the reverse of the Nazi symbol), the swastika in Japan has been used for centuries in Buddhist decorations, denoting Buddhist temples on maps.

The recommendation was based on survey results collected from more than 1,000 foreigners, including embassy officials, exchange students as well as tourists.

The symbol which has been used for centuries by Hindus and Buddhists has many Western tourists associating it with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This was because the emblem was adopted by Nazi Germany in order to enhance their ancient lineage.

In a bid to replace the swastika, a government panel at the Geospatial Information Authority proposed a three-tiered pagoda symbol making it a part of one of the 18 suggested icons for landmarks. Other symbols include hospitals and convenience stores for foreign-language maps as a part of a wider effort to create user-friendly maps for the growing number of foreign tourists.

Public opinion is witnessing an equal say on Twitter and other social networks with supporters attributing the change to bring about an end to the ongoing confusion among tourists and opponents discouraging such change being made for the sake of tourists. Others noted that the symbol of ‘manji’ is different from the Nazi symbol since it turns the opposite way.

The objective is to make symbols easier to understand, said geospatial authority mapping officer, Takayuki Nakamura.

“A good symbol on the map should be able to tell a visitor what it is at the first glance,” he said. “The question is whether one can easily tell it’s a temple by looking at the current symbol.”

Japan’s main Buddhist group is indifferent to the decision. This is because the change is not likely to affect domestic maps and, therefore, won’t be altering perceptions in Japan.

Referring to a common term used for the Nazi emblem, Ryoka Nishino, a spokesman for Japan Buddhist Federation said: “We are aware that some people say the ‘manji’ symbol could remind them of the ‘hakenkreuz’ symbol, which was created much later in history.”

“Even though we have more foreign visitors, our symbol that decorates each temple will stay,” he said.

Other symbols that would be altered for foreign maps include the one for a hotel, which currently looks like the symbol for helipads. The current giant X sign supposedly representing a pair of clubs for police station would be replaced by a saluting policeman.

The maps would add a new symbol for convenience stores, which is pervasive all over Japan- a sandwich and water bottle.

A final decision is expected in late March following a period of seeking public comment. (Inputs from gulfnews.com) (Image source: blogspot.com)

Next Story

The Exclusivism of Religion Terrorizing The Humanity

Acknowledging, respecting other faiths, and mingling together in their celebrations doubtlessly awaken our dormant godliness. This will certainly help purify our mind and steady our devotion. 

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At least to allow the grand idea of “humanity” to survive? Amidst of technological advances and luxuries we are fast getting away from basic realities of life!

BY: Salil Gewali 

The terror bombings that ripped through three churches and four luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have left 359 people dead and 500 others injured. World-wide condemnation has been expressed against the perpetrators. This is nothing more than the usual “ritual”. Almost all such deadly explosions are followed by strong denunciation and the offering of condolences and prayers. But will mere hollow condemnations and condolences enough? How many such cold-blooded blasts have happened at scared place of worship like Church, Mosques, Temples, Synagogue in past three years? Could we not rather find out the core causes leading to the incidents? At least to allow the grand idea of “humanity” to survive? Amidst of technological advances and luxuries we are fast getting away from basic realities of life! The frequent terror bombings have made us more worried and apprehensive than ever before. Should this not bring the world leaders — spiritual, political and also thinkers, to one table and find the solution? But that will not happen, and the innocent people will continue to die at the hand of such bloodthirsty people.

What a big irony that the evils of intolerance, dogmatism and hatred explosively originate from the holy altar of religions! Now the world should fear the religious fanatics more than humane atheists. Moreover, if we dig deeper, we shall find the causes of such bloody hostility lies in the misinterpretation of GOD and the holy books we are following. We have foolishly cut the “inconceivable” GOD to our size. We have regarded others as “non-believers” if they worship HIM in a little different way. We undermine them, we belittle their holy scriptures, we sniff at their culture and mock their tradition and rituals. Not just that, we even find our own ways to misinterpret their scriptures and thereby defame their whole culture and ethos. This has often become a sort of “hubby” among a certain class of people. They are no less than terror bombers, I say this with conviction. Their works insidiously contribute to bring the “division and hatred” among people, communities and their faiths. Such people literally hurt the heart and soul of the people, which is far worse than the “hurt” of those killed in the bomb blasts.

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So, the nonsense bickering, hatred and inhuman cruelty that originates from our “religious exclusivism” has only kept us away from the tenets of humanity.

Indoctrination of exclusivity of one’s practiced religion is doubtlessly one of the prime causes that has driven many to this blind extremism. So much so — they even dedicate that evil acts to the Supreme Almighty and their sacred scriptures!

Why can’t we love our neighbor and fellow others? Is it not the most COMMON and FUNDAMENTAL teaching of the holy scriptures of all religions? Let other notions and handed down beliefs that are “potential” to cause division and disruptive be just set aside. One believes, God will never punish us if we get together and work towards mutual love and brotherhood than being fanatic and hurting others and then hurt oneself. After all we are from one fountain source of His divinity.

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Indoctrination of exclusivity of one’s practiced religion is doubtlessly one of the prime causes that has driven many to this blind extremism.

Of course, the more we go deeper and more we “understand” His “CREATION”, the more we “laugh” at ourselves. We regret our own stupidity too. For instance — in HIS limitless and infinite number of galaxies (just “one” galaxy spreading out in a span of 150000 -200000 light-years) there consists an infinite number of “earths” having their own religions as ours here. Is not their God and our God same? Should we call them heathen because they don’t follow our religion?  Our idea of religious “exclusivism” in the UNIVERSE is not just narrow but it is utterly “childish”. It is exactly like a small kid crying and insisting that her doll is the most expensive and most beautiful on earth! So, the nonsense bickering, hatred and inhuman cruelty that originates from our “religious exclusivism” has only kept us away from the tenets of humanity. Our cruelty arising from the extremism just chases away the divinity from within.

Also Read: Eating Comfort Food in Stress Will Add Extra Kilos, Says Study

So, let’s learn first to make peace with other believers and their cultural values. Our paths may be different but the goal is the same. Acknowledging, respecting other faiths, and mingling together in their celebrations doubtlessly awaken our dormant godliness. This will certainly help purify our mind and steady our devotion.  No one’s devotion to Him should ever end up in blasts and human degeneration.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.